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Graduate Application FAQ

Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

What are the admissions requirements?

Minimum admissions requirements as follows: 

MA Program

Applicants with strong grades (at minimum, a B+ average in their third and fourth level courses in their major) who expect to have completed a honours degree in sociology, social psychology or a closely related social scientific field may be admitted as candidates for the MA degree. Students with substantial coursework in sociology from outside of the social sciences disciplines also will be considered.

International applicants must have completed at least four years of post-secondary study in Sociology or closely related social scientific field with a minimum B+ (78%: 3.3/4.0) average.

Please note admission is competitive: meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.

PhD Program

Applicants with a Master's degree in sociology who demonstrate an excellent record of academic achievement, a strong plan for sociological research, and a fit with the expertise of the current faculty members of the Sociology Department may be admitted to the PhD program in Sociology. Students in a closely related social scientific field, or have a strong background in sociology, also will be considered. All applicants must have a minimum A- average in their MA coursework.

International applicants must have at least five years full-time study at the B.A. and M.A. level. in Sociology.  Applicants must have a minimum A- average (80%; 3.7/4.0) in their last two years of study.

Please note: admission is competitive. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.


I am a McMaster student but I have not taken the specialist program.  Can I still apply to the M.A. program?


Students who take the Honours Sociology (Specialist Option) B.A. program at McMaster University and apply to the M.A. program will be given priority for admission if they receive an overall GPA of 10 or over.*

Honours Sociology B.A. students who are not in the Specialist Option program can still apply and be admitted into the M.A. program, but it is strongly recommended that they take advanced methods (such as SOCIOL 3O03, SOCIOL 3W03, and/or SOCIOL 4FF3).

*All applicants are encouraged to apply and compete for the Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master’s (CGS M) Program.


Do I need to write the Graduate Record Examination?

The Sociology department does not require the GRE exam to apply for admission to either the MA or the PhD program.


I am a student with a disability. Should I mention something about this in my application?


The McMaster Sociology Department encourages students with disabilities to apply. The School of Graduate Studies' policy with regard to students with disabilities can be found here (Section 6.5 of the School of Graduate Studies Calendar). Further information may be obtained from the School of Graduate Studies or the Student Accessibility Services.


I am an international applicant. Will you recognize my degree?

Applicants educated at non-Canadian institutions should note that their educational background will be assessed for equivalency with a McMaster University degree. Unfortunately the Department of Sociology does not have the resources to pre-screen applications.


English is not my first language. Do I need to write an English exam?

If English is not your first language:

Applicants are required to submit evidence of their proficiency in the English language as part of their application. The most common evidence is a score on one of the following exams:

  • TOEFL: minimum score of 92 (internet based), 237 (computer based) or 580 (paper based), minimum of 20 per band
  • IELTS (Academic): minimum overall score of 6.5, with at least 5.5 in each section
  • CAEL: minimum overall score of 70, with at least 60 per band
  • MELAB: minimum score of 85
  • PTE Academic: minimum score of 63
  • York University course: YUELI Level 6 with a minimum final grade of B
  • University of Toronto course: Academic Level 60 with a minimum final grade of B


I want to apply to more than one program; do I have to submit more than one application?

If you wish to apply to more than one program, you must pay separate application fees and submit separate sets of documents for each.


Do I need to find a supervisor prior to applying?

It is not necessary to find a supervisor prior to applying. Applicants should insure their research falls within the Department's fields of study Doctoral applicants are welcome and encouraged to contact potential faculty supervisors in advance. Supervisors will be assigned to new students just prior to the fall enrollment period.


How many reference letters are required for admission?

The Sociology Department requires two (2) confidential letters of recommendation from instructors most familiar with your academic work.


What is the submission process for my referees?

McMaster University uses the Electronic Referencing System. By entering the email address of your referee through the online application, the system will automatically send an e-Reference request on your behalf. If for some reason you are unable to use the Electronic Referencing System, you can download the Reference form here.


My referee’s contact information has changed. I have already submitted my online application; how can I edit the referee's contact information?

Please contact with full information about your new referee including name, email, and full university mailing address.

Contact the Sociology Graduate Program


Where can I find information on the status of my application?

You can log in to the Online Application for information on the status of your application. Please allow the department time to process your application.

Online Application Status Login


Can I send a hardcopy application?

No, you need to submit your application online.


Do I apply for funding at the same time as I apply for admission?

The Department of Sociology at McMaster University offers financial support to incoming graduate students to help them to excel in their studies and to complete their graduate programs in a timely manner. Funding for graduate study usually comprises a combination of monies from graduate scholarships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships. Many current and incoming graduate students receive additional funding from external agencies (see below).


Applicants are advised to apply for federal scholarships (not applicable for international applicants).

Canada Graduate Scholarships - Master's Program 
All Master's applicants should apply for this federal scholarship if they meet the eligibility requirements. Deadline: December 1, 2019. Please choose McMaster as one of your three choices for University. Students receiving this award must complete either the major research paper option or thesis option.

Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships Program Doctoral Scholarships, and SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships.
If you are currently in a Master's program, you are required to apply via your home university. Check with your current department for the internal deadline.

Graduate Funding Information 


What are the department specialties?

At the Ph.D. level, the department specializes in six main areas as described below. All students will choose two comprehensive exams from the list of five options. Sociological Fields of Study:

Social Inequality

Sociology of Gender and Sexuality

Social Psychology

Sociology of Race and Ethnicity

Political Sociology and Social Movements

Sociology of Work and Occupations

Faculty Research Areas


What are the degree requirements?

The McMaster University Graduate Studies Calendar provides a general description of the program of study leading to the MA and PhD degrees offered by the department.

The Sociology Department Graduate Handbook includes up-to-date information on current courses being offered each year. Students at both the MA and PhD level work with their graduate faculty advisor to determine which courses will be right for their course of study.

Master of Arts in Sociology 

Master of Arts in Sociology: Stream in Social Psychology

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology


How do I apply for a specific MA option?

Applicants to the M.A. program complete a single on-line application.  Please, indicate your interest in a specific option on your statement of interest.  Options available will be listed on your offer letter.  Procedures to confirm your option are outlined in the department handbook.


How much is the application fee?

Please see the School of Graduate Studies website for information regarding the application fees and payment methods.


Can my application fee be waived?

The application fee will not be waived, refunded, or deferred.


I changed my mind and do not want to go to graduate school anymore; can the application fee be refunded?

The application fee will not be refunded.


I accidentally applied for the wrong program; can this be changed, or can the application fee be refunded?

If you have applied for the wrong program, you must begin a new application for the correct program. The fee for the incorrect application cannot be refunded.


Still have questions?

If you have additional questions about the admissions process or graduate program, please email If you need assistance with the technical aspect of your on-line application form, please contact In both cases, please allow three to five days for a response.

Contact technical support for the On-line Graduate Application

How to Apply

Thinking of applying to McMaster for graduate studies in sociology? 

Application Process